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Your Environment. Your Health.

NIEHS WTP: July 10, 2020 Newsbrief

Weekly E-Newsbrief, July 10, 2020

Weekly E-Newsbrief

July 10, 2020

The E-Newsbrief of the National Clearinghouse is a free weekly newsletter focusing on new developments in the world of worker health and safety. Each issue provides summaries of the latest worker health and safety news from newspapers, magazines, journals, government reports, and the Web, along with links to the original documents. Also featured each week are updates from government agencies that handle hazmat and worker safety issues such as DOE, EPA, OSHA and others.

Subscribing to the National Clearinghouse Newsbrief is the best way to stay on top of the worker health and safety news.

Top StoriesBack to Top

Risk and Race Concerns Fuel Ongoing Debate Around Hazard Pay During Pandemic

Frontline waste industry employees can earn high wages in some instances, but rates differ for a variety of reasons depending on the employer or location. That has sparked growing interest in supplemental pay in light of newly challenging conditions. The decision to pay more rests with employers and it has so far not been the norm. Now, as the pandemic's risks appear to be rising across the country and conversations about systemic racism have come to the forefront, some believe the debate about hazard pay is likely to mount.

Waste Dive [Authors: Cole Rosengren and E.A. Crunden]

Texas Moves Ahead on Discharging Oil Wastewater, Even as EPA Balks

Environmental officials in Texas and other western states are moving ahead on plans to allow oil and gas companies to treat drilling wastewater and discharge it into rivers and streams, even as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) balks at endorsing the practice amid widespread questions about public health effects.

Houston Chronicle [Author: James Osborne]

Hanford Contractor Earns $6 million, as Massive Hanford Plant Takes Step Toward Startup

The first major facility at the massive Hanford vitrification plant has been started up – a key milestone toward beginning to treat radioactive waste at the plant. Startup of the Analytical Laboratory, one of the four major facilities handling nuclear waste at the vit plant, also is a contract milestone for the contractor for the vit plant, Bechtel National.

Tri-City Herald [Author: Annette Cary]

How Wildfires Make COVID-19 More Dangerous

As the coronavirus continues its assault on the United States, it’s easy to forget about other hazards. But public health officials warn that it would be a mistake to ignore a related threat: wildfire smoke. Scientists fear that the immune effects of smoke may even linger for months. A recent study in Montana found that smoky summers led to more severe flu seasons the following winter.

New York Times [Authors: Julia Rosen and Henry Fountain]

More Than 1,400 Georgia Healthcare Workers Sign Letter Asking Governor for More Coronavirus Restrictions

More than 1,400 Georgia healthcare workers have petitioned the state's governor asking to impose further restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19. Georgia has seen the virus surge in the past week, with the number of new cases increasing by over 50%.

CNN [Authors: Hollie Silverman, Susannah Cullinane, and Steve Almasy]

‘They’re Living With It Every Day’: Environmental Injustices Leave Minorities With Pollution Anxieties

Racial inequities have largely worsened, resulting in deep divides in how much people trust their immediate environment and its impact on their health. New Morning Consult data shows that Hispanic and Black communities in the U.S. experience a different environmental reality than their white counterparts, reporting lower levels of trust in their tap water and higher levels of concern about local pollution.

Morning Consult [Author: Lisa Martine Jenkins]

UAW Is on Alert as Cases of Coronavirus Surge at Two Big GM Plants

The United Auto Workers (UAW) are on heightened alert as cases of coronavirus escalate at two of General Motors' key plants that local union leaders have already pressed the automaker to close for health reasons. The plants are Arlington Assembly in Texas and Wentzville Assembly in Missouri.

Detroit Free Press [Author: Jamie L. LaReau]

'We Were Treated Worse Than Animals': Disaster Recovery Workers Confront COVID-19

Many of the disaster recovery workers who came to Midland, Michigan, following the flooding did get sick. A cluster of roughly 20 confirmed cases of coronavirus drew the attention of local health officials. It also shined a light on a multi-billion dollar industry that's growing fast as climate-driven disasters become more frequent and more expensive.

NPR [Authors: Joel Rose and Marisa Peñaloza]

Restoring Electricity After a Hurricane or Other Disaster Will Be Very Different Because of Coronavirus

Utility crews have already started following new procedures developed to deal with COVID-19. COVID-19 has already affected day-to-day operations at Duke Energy, which has 7.7 million retail customers in North and South Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky. Changes in procedures made to respond to social distancing and personal safety requirements will also apply during disaster recovery operations.

The Weather Channel [Author: Ron Brackett]

Poultry Workers in Virginia Want More Workplace Safety Protocols Amid the Pandemic

Thousands of poultry workers in the Delmarva peninsula have tested positive for COVID-19 in recent months revealing problematic working conditions that some are hopeful will be resolved through mandatory workplace protocols put in place by state governments.

WAMU [Author: Julie Depenbrock]

Calendar FeaturesBack to Top

Report Release Webinar: Evidence-Based Practice for Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response

A new National Academies report, Evidence-Based Practice for Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response, highlights the current state of the evidence for public health emergency preparedness and response (PHEPR) and makes recommendations aimed at transforming the infrastructure, funding, and methods of PHEPR research. The report will be released on July 14 and with an overview webinar at 3:30 p.m. ET.

National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine

COVID-19 Complexities: Converging Threats, Fractured Resources Virtual Webinar

The Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense is hosting a virtual webinar, COVID Complexities: Converging Threats, Fractured Resources, to help the Commission better understand the potential for COVID-19’s reemergence, the country’s efforts to track the spread of the disease, and national readiness to address future biological threats. The webinar will be held on July 21 at 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. ET.

Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense

Brownfields 2021: Call for Ideas Now Open!

The Brownfields 2021 Call for Ideas is now open. Please submit ideas for dynamic educational sessions in Oklahoma City that will motivate brownfields stakeholders to engage, learn, and share their experiences and knowledge of community revitalization challenges and solutions. Submissions must be received by Aug. 24 for consideration.

More Information

New Solutions: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the Workplace – Risk Factors and Solutions

New Solutions seeks manuscripts on the subject of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis and its occupational and environmental health policy impacts from the local to international levels. The journal is accepting a variety of topics and article types. The extended deadline to submit manuscripts is now Aug. 31.

Call for Papers

On The Web This WeekBack to Top

Characteristics and Elements of Non-Punitive Employee Safety Reporting Systems for Public Transportation

The Transportation Research Board (TRB) Transit Cooperative Research Program's (TCRP) pre-publication of TCRP Research Report 218: Characteristics and Elements of Non-Punitive Employee Safety Reporting Systems for Public Transportation compiles the best practices used in non-punitive employee safety reporting systems at transit agencies.

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

NIOSH Compiles Disinfectant Safety, Health Hazard Information

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recently collected safety and health information on cleaners and disinfectants that employers can use in their hazard communication programs. The NIOSH material includes a table of health hazards and protective measures for chemicals used as disinfectants.

Safety BLR

Oregon OSHA to Create Safety Standard for COVID-19

The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division (OSHA) has released plans to create a COVID-19 workplace safety standard that could be a permanent standard for infectious diseases, according to a timeline made public July 2.

Business Insurance [Author: Louise Escola]

A Mask User Guide: Which Protects You Best?

A growing body of evidence supports the idea that wearing a mask in public significantly reduces the spread of a disease like COVID-19, even when you feel well. People can be asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic, so wearing a mask is less about protecting yourself and more about protecting others.

Occupational Health and Safety

Green-Energy Companies Have a Human-Rights Problem

Land seizures. Dangerous working conditions. Mistreatment of native populations. For decades, such practices were associated in the public mind with the oil and gas industries. According to a new report, at least 197 allegations of human-rights abuses have been leveled against renewable-energy projects in recent years, including land-grabs, dangerous working conditions and even killings.

Bloomberg [Author: Adam Minter]

President of the Royal Society Urges Everyone to Wear a Face Covering

Everyone should have a face covering to help tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and they should not leave home without having one in their possession according to the President of the Royal Society Venki Ramakrishnan. His call comes as a new review of evidence reinforces the benefits of face coverings and even suggests they may protect the wearer as well as those around them.

Royal Society

Federal Agency UpdateBack to Top

EPA IG Flags Chemical Safety Board Vacancies, Coronavirus Impact

A lack of a quorum and the global coronavirus pandemic have created several operational challenges for the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Inspector General (IG) said in a new report. The report addressed to the agency’s new chair, Katherine Lemos, outlines the “elevated urgency” of selecting new board members.

Bloomberg [Author: Fatima Hussein]

EPA IG Report

EPA Publishes Final Risk Evaluation for Methylene Chloride

Methylene chloride poses “unreasonable risk” to workers under certain conditions, according to a final risk evaluation recently released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which now is compelled to propose within one year regulatory action to mitigate the chemical’s hazards.

Safety and Health Magazine

OSHA Releases Frequently Asked Questions and Answers On Worker Safety During the Coronavirus Pandemic

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published frequently asked questions to help protect workers from exposure to the coronavirus. The FAQs provide guidance to employers and employees about topics such as the best practices to prevent the spread of infection during the coronavirus pandemic, workers’ rights.


Awardee Highlights/Online LearningBack to Top

COVID-19 Disparities Tackled by National Institutes of Health

A National Institutes of Health (NIH) initiative aims to improve COVID-19 outcomes among low-income and minority individuals by increasing the availability and uptake of testing. Socioeconomic issues and exposure to pollution can heighten their vulnerability to the disease. Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) includes a component geared toward underserved populations, called RADx-UP.

Environmental Factor [Author: Jesse Saffron]

The COVID-19 Pandemic Is Fueling the Opioid Crisis!

The Clearinghouse developed a fact sheet on COVID-19’s impact on the opioid crisis. The fact sheet identifies the link between the COVID-19 pandemic and an increased risk of opioid misuse and provides tips to manage stressors caused by the pandemic.

WTP Opioids and the Workplace Toolbox

NIEHS WTP Essential and Returning Worker Online Training Course Now Available

As workplaces reopen, workers and employer are safeguarding against COVID-19. Vivid Learning Systems designed an online version of the NIEHS WTP Essential and Returning Worker Training course, which is now available from Vivid Learning Systems. This training includes an Introduction and modules on Assessing Exposure Risk to SARS CoV-2, Workplace Exposure Prevention, Cleaning and Disinfections, and Resilience. Access to this course is free of charge.

Vivid Learning System LMS

Job OpeningsBack to Top

CSB Seeks Chemical Incident Investigator

The Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) is hiring a chemical incident investigator. The position serves as an expert in industrial chemical safety and nationwide incident investigation and analysis of major incidents involving the accidental release of hazardous materials and, developing and presenting reports with safety recommendations for adopting by the Board. The deadline to apply is July 27.

Job Posting

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